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Distributed-memory systems have traditionally had great difficulty performing network I/O at rates proportional to their computational power. The problem is that the network interface has to support network I/O for a supercomputer, using computational and memory bandwidth resources similar to those of a workstation. As a result, the network interface becomes a bottleneck. We implemented an architecture for network I/O for the iWarp system with the following two key characteristics: first, application-specific tasks are off-loaded from the network interface to the distributed-memory system, and second, these tasks are performed in close cooperation with the application. The network interface has been used by several applications for over a year. In this paper we describe the network interface software that manages the communication between the iWarp distributed-memory system and the network interface, we validate the main features of our network interface architecture based on application experience, and we discuss how this architecture can be used by other distributed-memory systems.
Date of Conference: 1995